On the morning of the accident, Carly had forgotten to set the alarm, and overslept. She woke with a bad hangover, a damp dog crushing her, and the demented pounding of drums and cymbals coming from her son's bedroom. To add to her gloom, it was pelting with rain outside.
She lay for a moment, gathering her thoughts. She had a chiropodist appointment for a painful corn, and a client she loathed would be in her office in just over two hours. It was going to be one of those days, she had the feeling, where things just kept on going from bad to worse. Like the drumming.
"Tyler!" she yelled. "For Christ's sake stop that. Are you ready?"
Otis leapt off the bed and began barking furiously at his reflection in the mirror on the wall.
The drumming fell silent.
She staggered to the bathroom, found the paracetamols and gulped two down. I am so not a good example to my son, she thought. I'm not even a good example to my dog.
As if on cue, Otis padded into the bathroom, holding his lead in his mouth, expectantly.
"What's for breakfast, mum?" Tyler called out.
She stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Mercifully, most of her forty-one-year-old — and this morning going on two hundred and forty-one-year-old — face was shrouded in a tangle of blonde hair that looked, at this moment, like matted straw. "Arsenic!" she shouted back, her throat raw from too many cigarettes last night. "Laced with cyanide and rat poison."
Otis stamped his paw on the bathroom tiles.
"Sorry, no walkies. Not this morning. Later. OK?"
"I had that yesterday!" Tyler shouted back.
"Well it didn't sodding work, did it?"
She switched on the shower, waited for it to warm up, then stepped inside.
From Dead Man's Grip by Peter James. Copyright 2011 by Peter James. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books